Substance Use

Key Points:

  • Your brain is more sensitive to the effects of alcohol and other substances after a concussion.
  • While recovering from your concussion, it is recommended to avoid using substances.

Alcohol, Vaping and Using Different Substances

Have you occasionally used alcohol or vaped or tried other substances? What have been the good things and not so good things about doing this?

It’s understandable that you may have used alcohol or other substances because you are bored, or because your friends do or because of peer pressure or maybe because you feel more relaxed afterwards. Some teens use substances and/or drink alcohol as a way to cope with stress.

If this is something that you do, these substances may make you feel better for a little while but then make it worse for your recovery after a concussion.


Why would alcohol, vaping and substance use affect your concussion recovery?
  • Your brain is still developing (and won’t be fully developed until you are in your 20s) so it’s more sensitive to the effects of alcohol and other substances after a concussion.
Effects of Alcohol and Substance Use on Thinking Skills and Mood
  • Alcohol and substances can make that ‘foggy feeling’ worse, so that it’s hard to pay attention, learn, and memorize at school.
  • Some substances can damage brain cells.
  • Alcohol and substances can also impact your judgment, balance, and coordination so that you are at risk for a fall or more injuries which could then cause another concussion.
  • Alcohol can also increase the risk of seizures (for teens and adults).
  • Impaired driving is illegal and dangerous to you and your surroundings. It is also a leading cause of death amongst youth. (Statistics & Links – MADD Canada)

How to deal with peer pressure?

What happens if your friends are using and you don’t want to, especially when recovering from a concussion?

It can be hard to deal with peer pressure, especially if these are your good friends.

    Here are some tips that you may find helpful:
    • Tell your friends that using substances or drinking alcohol will make it harder and take longer to recover from your concussion symptoms.
    • When all else fails… blame your parents. They won’t mind! Explain that they are really strict and you’ll get in trouble.
    • Keep busy with activities. Think of fun stuff you like to do that won’t make your concussion symptoms worse.
    • Have a plan for dealing with peer pressure when it comes up. Think of things you can say ahead of time when you are offered alcohol or other substances
    • Keep a bottled drink like a soda pop with you when you hang out with your friends.
    • Hang out with friends that won’t pressure you.

    For More Information on Alcohol and Substance Use

    You can check out these links:

    Information on substance use and how to get help:

    Information on vaping and smoking:

    Information on alcohol and other substances:

    Information on how substances affect the brain and body:

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